Mills Reef 2017 ‘Reserve’ Cabernet/Merlot and 2016 ‘Elspeth’ Syrah


At the start of this month, Mills Reef launched a new super-premium icon label ‘Arthur Edmund’ in tribute of Paddy Preston and Tim Preston’s father and grandfather respectively. They are extremely limited bottlings of the very best 2013 Cabernet/Merlot and Syrah wine from their Gimblett Gravels vineyards from the outstanding 2013 vintage. They weigh-in at a mouth-watering – or should that be eye-watering - $350.00 per bottle. I phoned general manager Nick Aleksich about the wines on receiving the press release to discuss the bold pricing. Some interesting points emerged, among which were that these were not the most expensive New Zealand wines made, and that Mills Reef ‘Elspeth’ and other Gimblett Gravels wines from other companies had performed better, regularly and consistently in tastings with the best of Bordeaux and Rhone wines that could cost 15-20 times more than the New Zealand wines. Nick suggested that on a global viewpoint, the best New Zealand wines are vastly under-priced, this being something I agreed with. The pricing of the ‘Arthur Edmund’ wines is in step with the increases seen in a number of other highly visible, ultra-premium wines made in this country.

Here, I review the new releases of the more accessible and affordable versions of the ‘Arthur Edmund’ wines, the 2017 ‘Reserve’ Cabernet/Merlot, this ‘Reserve’ range designed to show ‘balance’, and the 2016 ‘Elspeth’ Syrah, the ‘Elspeth wines named after Tim Preston’s grandmother, this range being the former flagship, but now superseded. Both wines reviewed come from the company’s Gimblett Gravel vineyards. www.millsreef.co.nz


  • Mills Reef ‘Reserve’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Cabernet/Merlot 2017
  • Mills Reef ‘Elspeth’ Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2016

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